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Organic Farming

Organic refers to agricultural production systems used to produce food and fiber. All kinds of agricultural products are produced organically, including , grains, meat, dairy products000000, eggs, fibers such as cotton, flowers, and processed food products. Organic farming management relies on developing biological diversity in the field to disrupt habitat for pest organisms, and the purposeful maintenance and replenishment of soil fertility.

Organic farmers are not allowed to use synthetic pesticides or fertilizers. Some of the essential characteristics of organic systems include design and implementation of an "organic system plan" that describes the practices used in producing crops and livestock products; a detailed record keeping system that tracks all products from the field to point of sale; and maintenance of buffer zones to prevent inadvertent contamination from adjacent conventional fields.

Organic farmers build healthy soils by nourishing the living component of the soil, the microbial inhabitants that release, transform, and transfer nutrients. Soil organic matter contributes to good soil structure and water-holding capacity. Organic farmers feed soil biota and build soil organic matter with cover crops, compost, and biologically based soil amendments. These produce healthy plants that are better able to resist disease and insect predation. Organic farmers' primary strategy in controlling pests and diseases is prevention through good plant nutrition and management.

Organic farmers use cover crops and sophisticated crop rotations to change the field ecology, effectively disrupting habitat for weeds, insects, and disease organisms. Weeds are controlled through crop rotation, mechanical tillage, and hand-weeding, as well as through cover crops, mulches, flame weeding, and other management methods. Organic farmers rely on a diverse population of soil organisms, beneficial insects, and birds to keep pests in check. When pest populations get out of balance, growers implement a variety of strategies such as the use of insect predators, mating disruption, traps and barriers.

Under the National Organic Rule, growers are required to use sanitation and cultural practices first before they can resort to apply a material to control a weed, pest or disease problem. Use of these materials in organic production is regulated, strictly monitored, and documented. As a last resort, certain botanical or other non-synthetic pesticides may be applied.

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